How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets From Smoke

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Try several approaches to clean smoke stains from cabinets before resorting to repainting.
Try several approaches to clean smoke stains from cabinets before resorting to repainting. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Smoke stains on cabinets ruin the look of your kitchen. Smoke can result from a small fire, candles, cigarettes or from a cooking attempt gone wrong. It's important to remove smoke as soon as possible after it stains your kitchen cabinets so the marks do not settle into the wood. While there are several methods for cleaning kitchen cabinets damaged by smoke, some smoke marks are simply too advanced for total removal. In such cases, clean the cabinets thoroughly and consider repainting or restaining the cabinets.

Things You'll Need

  • Erasing sponge
  • Scrubbing pad
  • Cleanser with orange oil
  • Rag
  • Rubber gloves
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Sponge

Moisten an erasing sponge, available at hardware and supermarkets, with water. Gently scrub the smoke stains. Re-wet the sponge as necessary. Test the magic sponge on an inconspicuous area of the cabinet first for color fastness.

Wet a scrubbing pad and squirt on a few drops of a cleanser with orange oil, which helps cut through smoke marks and grease. Use medium pressure to scrub away the smoke marks. Wipe the cabinets with a moistened rag as you work to clean away the residue. Reapply the cleanser frequently.

Put on protective rubber gloves and mix a 1/2 cup of trisodium phosphate, also known as TSP and available at hardware stores, into a gallon of warm water. Dip a sponge into the solution, wring it out and scrub down the cabinets.

Tips & Warnings

  • Trisodium phosphate can discolor some cabinets. Test the cleaner on an inside part of the cabinet first unless you are prepared to repaint the cabinet after cleaning.
  • Turn on exhaust fans and open the windows or set out small bowls of white vinegar around the kitchen to help get rid of lingering smoke odors.
  • Trisodium phosphate can cause irritation or burns if it comes into contact with bare skin. Wear long-sleeved clothing and wash any affected area with water and soap. Flush your eye with water for 15 minutes if contact occurs and seek medical help.

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